Iran: Stop Ethnic Cleansings In Ahwaz

To: UN Secretary-General

3 May 2011

Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, The Secretary-General of The United Nations

We write to you out of deep concern for Iran’s increasingly brutal crackdown on the Ahwazi Arabs human rights activists and peaceful protesters in recent days. At this juncture, it is imperative that the United Nations take a stand and urges Iran to immediately desist its oppression and violence and to respect the basic human and civil rights of Ahwazi Arabs, including the right to Arabic Education, employment, assembly, association and expression.

Ahwazi Arabs rallied on 15 April 2011 (Ahwazi Day of Rage) to mark the anniversary of demonstrations which took place in the Al Ahwazi  cities when Ahwazi Arabs held rallies in protest at a letter that Mohammed Ali Abtahi,  Khatami’s Vice President, which outlined a policy of “Persianization” of the region only to be met with violence. Special Forces used live ammunition, electric batons, tear gas, and paintball pellets to disperse protesters. Electricity, water, internet and mobile phone communication were cut.         

According to reports by Amnesty International “over 200 people were arrested in the run-up to the demonstration... around 30 of the arrested people are said to be women, five of whom are reportedly pregnant.  Many of those arbitrarily detained are at great risk of facing prison abuse and trumped-up charges that could lead to severe and unjust sentences."  Amnesty international told Iran to investigate the crackdown on the Al Ahwaz protests.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has warned the United Nations of the possible spread of unrest in the region. In her letter, Ebadi says that at least 12 people were killed in the clashes, 20 others were injured and dozens were arrested. Ebadi urges the UN to push for the unconditional release of those arrested in order to prevent widespread unrest. She tells Pillay that Ahwazi Arabs in Ahwaz have been living in poor conditions and have suffered from inequality and an extensive discrimination.

International Federation for Human Rights on 19 April 2011 tells Iran to halt widespread political, economic and cultural discrimination and repression against Ethnic Arabs in Al Ahwaz.

Reporters Without Borders on 22 April 2011 “condemns the use of force by the Iranian authorities to contain demonstrations a week ago in [Al Ahwaz] and their ban on news coverage of the bloody clashes that took place. Both the national and international media were prevented from covering the incidents”.

In a letter to Alireza Sheikh-Attar, Iran’s Ambassador to Germany, The Society for Threatened People urges Iran to respect Ahwazis basic human rights, including the right of free expression and peaceful protest.     

On April 26 Iranian Minorities' Human Rights Organization (IMHRO) provided Human Rights Watch with the names of 27 people it said had been killed by Iranian security forces since the outbreak of violence. The group also said that authorities have arrested several hundred protesters and rights activists.

On 28 April The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran “expressed deep concern about the violent suppression of the ethnic Arab population in Ahwaz, Iran, which has reportedly led to the death of dozens of protesters as well as numerous injuries and arrests since 15 April 2011” and joined “Amnesty International in calling for an independent investigation of the tragic deaths of protesters since 15 April”.

On 29 April 2011 Human Rights Watch urged Iran “open independent and transparent investigations into all alleged killings there since protests began on April 14 2011”. Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, says that "Iran's wall of silence around Khuzestan certainly makes it seem that the government is trying to hide what its security forces have been doing there."

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and a member of GCC MPs have voiced their concerns and ask Iran to halt this brutality.

Despite the crackdown protests continue and we are increasingly concerned about the safety of the Ahwazi Arab people during the upcoming protests and the safety of detained opposition leaders.

Please use every mechanism to urge Iran to respect the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association as set forth by international rights standards.

Please use your influence to urge Iran to immediately halt its government sanctioned policy of racial segregation, oppression and brutality. Call on the Iran to release all prisoners of conscience and protesters detained during.

We urge you to work with UN Human Rights Commissioner and Independent Expert on Minority Issues to respond to the human rights crisis engulfing the people of Al Ahwaz.

Help us to stop racial, ethnic and cultural cleansings in Al Ahwaz.

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Date: 03/05/2011




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